Saturday, 16 May 2009
I saw Oliver Cromwell shake his head outside Parliament today
The statue right outside Parliament is that of Oliver Cromwell who made England into a temporary republic during the Civil Wars of the 1600s.
As Cambridge MP, he joined the Roundhead movement and ran Oliver's army leading to the execution of Charles I and the creation of the Barebones Parliament.
After his death he was buried in Westminster Abbey - which is where the statue looks today. His military exploits were brutal and when the Royalists returned, his corpse was dug up, hung in chains and beheaded.
But the controversial statue stands directly outside Parliament.
350 years ago Parliament had little power, pretty much an advisory body for taxes. Cromwell positioned it for the privileged control it now exercises as a parliamentary monarchy.
Cromwell's point was to end arbitrary dictation from people who considered themselves above the law. What would he make of how things have developed?